A few things I’d like the world to know. (On coping techniques and prejudice)

I suffer from several (diagnosed) mental disorders. With those often come along anxiety and panic attacks, which I also suffer from. A lot of people don’t understand what that means, what consequences for quality of life it brings and how crippling and disabling it can be. Personally, I don’t really mind them not understanding. It’s a very abstract concept, to be sick and not yet be physically harmed in any way. What I do mind is the fact that people judge what they can’t understand. They don’t take it for what it is or try to understand as much as possible, do research and talk to people about it, they simply judge and express an opinion that they are not qualified to have. They are allowed to have it, yes, but they are not qualified to speak on the topic. Especially when it comes to coping techniques, I have experienced seriously judgmental people.

And I thought I’d explain.

Here are some of my coping techniques and how people have reacted to them. It’s a tale of caution; trying to show my fellow humans to Think, then Speak and not to be too fast to judge someone.

I wear leggings a lot. I also wear them outside a lot. I wear them to go grocery shopping, to run errands. And I’ve seen the stares and the pointed fingers and looks. I’ve heard people say “Oh, wow. She probably had no time to do laundry, as lazy as she looks” or “Looks like a slob, that one”. Now, these comments might already be seen as rude, based on the fact that people judged me just because of my looks. They’re rude because people see the leggings or yoga pants and immediately think of laziness, even though that might not be the case. Maybe I could live with the rudeness. Say to myself “Well, sometimes you are, in fact, a bit lazy. Just let them talk.” But they’re not only rude, they’re also very hurtful to me. You see, there are a few reasons why I wear leggings. 1) Often times, I can’t wear anything else. Because my skin starts to crawl when I even think about putting the fabric on my skin. Because sometimes my skin is so sensitive that anything I wear makes me have itching fits. Because sometimes, my skin doesn’t feel like it belongs on my body and if I were to wear jeans, for example, which can be quite rough and stiff, would only amplify the feeling. Which then usually results in the aforementioned itching fits (scratching my skin until it turns red, raw or starts to bleed), anxiety and general uncomfortableness, like nausea and headaches. My legs, arms and neck are the zones that are affected the most, so I try to wear things that are comfortable to me. Hence the leggings. 2) I have an eating disorder and often feel “not at home” in my body. I’ve had issues with my thighs for years. Wearing leggings, outside, helps me to grow stronger in the belief that I am okay in my body. Whether parts of it jiggle or not. This is not a simple ‘Hrmpf. I wish my thighs weren’t as big, I should work out” life-improving thought. It’s more like a….”I don’t want anyone to see any part of my body oh my god I can’t breathe someone get me out of here” situation.

So yes. Maybe I am lazy sometimes. But I do have fresh clothes at home, I do laundry regularly and I am not a slob because I choose to be a bit more comfortable. This is how I cope and I will not apologize for saving myself.

Another thing that I often do, is listening to music while out and about. I will wear headphones so I don’t disturb other shoppers et cetera and I always only wear one earbud, so I can hear other humans who might be calling my name or saying hello. I also only wear one earbud for safety reasons. To be able to hear the traffic, for example. Now, I’ve often conversed with people wearing my earbud, listening to music. And I have just as often been asked to turn it off, take out the earbud or even had it taken out (ripped out) for me. Of course, these things happen while I’m simultaneously receiving weird looks or angered stares. Here’s my problem: I understand that people assume I am not listening. I understand that people think I’m rude or showing disinterest. I understand that people want my full attention and don’t think they’re getting it. But they don’t understand that the only way I am even able to listen, is by using this coping technique. They don’t understand that I am not showing disinterest but in fact showing all the interest I can, thanks to the music in my ear. They don’t understand that the only way that I am able to give them any attention at all, and without falling into an anxiety or panic attack, is by listening to the music in my ear. Now, you might be thinking “Well, how the hell should I know?” and you are right to do so. So I’d like to tell you that “I need this. Sorry”, if you ask me to stop the music or take out the earbud, like I’ve told quite a few people before. I won’t say more when you ask me during the conversation, for your and my own protection, but I shouldn’t need to anyway. Something I apparently still have to do though is to remind my fellow humans that I am giving you all I’ve got. I’m giving you all the interest and attention that I have got in me when I am talking to you and we’re having a conversation. If I didn’t, there would be no conversation. And now that you know that I’m giving it all I’ve got, please do the same instead of forcing yourself or your societal views on me, making decisions for me by touching my things (‘making me listen to you’ by turning off my music) or touching me. My decisions are not yours to make, my body is not yours to be touched just because it is there and can be touched. The same goes for my things, like mobile phone or mp3 player.

This is sometimes the only way to be able to have human interactions, carry out conversations or exchange niceties. I’m giving it my all and I am not being rude. And even if I was by your definition, I’d rather safe myself and be rude about it than drown in my own anxiety. This is how I cope and I will not apologize for saving myself.

Sometimes, I don’t drive. Sometimes, I only go grocery shopping or run errands when someone I know is with me. I have often heard things like “I wonder why she doesn’t drive, you think she even has a license? Old enough, though”, “Think she lost her license?”, “I know she has a license but it took a long time till she got it. Maybe she’s afraid?”, amidst laughter and funny looks. Not to mention the comments I’ve heard about going shopping with my Mom or Dad. “D’you think she still lives at home?” “Maybe she has no money.” Here are the facts: I do drive. And I drive very well. I’ve never had a ticket, never been stopped for speeding. I always obey the law and traffic regulations. I don’t speed. I’m great at parallel parking and I often manage reversing into a spot in one go. It’s true that it took me a long time to get my license – nearly 2 1/2 years – but that’s because of my illnesses – not being able to go to classes, take driving lessons, having to cut driving lessons short. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. Not to me. Not to my parents. It didn’t even matter to my driving instructor, who is very good at what he does and was an enormous supporter of taking it as slow as I needed to and taking the decision when to drive into my own hands. And believe me, he was there for it all. He was right there in the passenger seat when I suffered from panic and anxiety attacks or had a nervous breakdown or broke out into a crying fit. I appreciate him, his support and his patience. Because he taught me that driving a car comes with a lot of responsibility for myself and others and the feeling of not being up to it, whenever it may creep up, should not be treated lightly. So even though it took me longer to get my license, I do drive and I drive as well as anyone could, to be honest. I’ve never changed any habits learned during the lessons. I crawl through the zones that even the police are too impatient not to rush through. So there. Not driving doesn’t mean that I am afraid of driving. Or that I can’t do it right, that I am bad at it. It means that I have learned, through years of therapy, when to say that I am not feeling well and need help. So I might need someone to drive me to the drugstore or wherever, but at least I don’t drive with brainfog or a severe panic attack and am endangering others. I think that’s a pretty good thing.

Now for the part of going out with mental support; Mom, Dad, Sis. Yes, sometimes I can only go out when someone else is there with me. That has nothing to do with the fact that yes, I still live at home or how my monetary situation is. Not to mention the fact that that is a sore spot for me since I am not, in fact, even able to work or move out. But they don’t know that the reason I sometimes only go out with a companion, is that I’m often in such a dark place, that literally anything could throw me into a panic attack or itching fit. And I want someone there to help me out when that happens. I want someone there who sees the signs and will get me out of there as fast as possible, even when I might already have frozen in terror. Which is another facet of learning how to ask for help, courtesy of years of therapy.

So while you might say I am not grown up or independent enough, I’m answering with this: I am independent enough to ask for help and I think that’s a pretty grown up thing to do. I am independent enough to look for ways to live an adult life under the looming darkness of a crippling illness. And I think I’m doing pretty well. And if you’re still not convinced that it’s maybe a good idea for me to have someone with me, just imagine me saying this: it’s not my job to make you more comfortable with something you’re not suffering under. It’s my job to make myself comfortable. And if that means going shopping with my Mom or having my sister drive me somewhere, then so be it. This is how I cope and I will not apologize for saving myself.

I would like to mention that this is not an attack or a war cry. It’s an explanation for my fellow humans. I felt like there were a few things that needed to be said and explained. Thank you for reading this far. I appreciate it.

At this point, I’d also like to thank my friends Mel and C. who never push and never pull. Who see that I sometimes need to take the day second by second and never tell me to do it differently. Who support me and catch me when I fall. Thank you. I love you, guys. ♥ 

Back. Again.

Hey everybody.

Haven’t been around much. I’m not going to try for an apology because 1. I wouldn’t know what to say anyway and 2. I don’t want to.

I still don’t really know what’s going on in my head. I’ve been struggling a lot during the past weeks. Everything seems to be boiling in my body and I don’t know how to deal.

Thoughts are on fire. Body is burning up. Nightmares are getting stronger and weirder again.

I just don’t know.

Life itself is miserable, to be honest. There are some things on my plate that I don’t know how to even approach. Everything seems quite pointless.

Don’t worry, though. I’m still here. Still breathing. Still running.

I’ll keep going. For what, I don’t know. But I will.

I’ll hopefully see you all soon.

509.9

I’m scared today.

Scared of the future.

Scared that nothing will ever go right. Or left. Or anywhere else than here.

I’m scared that I’ll have to live this life, this life I currently have, until the day I die.

I’m scared that I’ll be crippled by this mind-numbing awfulness of the dark that surrounds me and my thoughts and that I’ll never amount to anything because of it.

I’m scared that I’ll never be able to change where I am. Or evolve. Not because I don’t want to. But because the energy is being drained from my body by screaming doubt and paralyzing fear and the terrifying knowledge that I’ve walked this road before and failed.

I’m afraid that I’ll not get to chase my dreams and move on to bigger and better things and forever be stuck in my head and this house.

I’m afraid.

Terrified.

A Hello and Goodbye. And 13 Things I learned in 2014.

Hello everybody.

Today is the 4th of January. It marks the anniversary of my great-grandma’s death, which is probably the reason why I lack control over my emotions on this particular day. I’ve pissed off everyone I’ve talked to today, but really…I don’t care. I miss her and no one can take the pain away. It’s something that I have to live with and if it helps to sleep and be bitchy, then so be it. At least for the day.

Which brings us back to 2014 because last year was a bitch also. It brought lots of tears, screams, nightmares, panic attacks, breathing problems, health issues, fights, worries. Sometimes I feel like I am still trapped in these moments, re-living and re-living them to the day I die.

But then there’s the good memories. The laughs and hugs and feel-good days and days over an average of 3.5 in my rating system. The days I did things I could not have done before, days when I did good. And sometimes these memories help chase the bad things away.

The most terrifying days of the year are always my birthday, and NYE. Often I feel like time is flying by – everyone is running past and I’m here, stuck in some kind of slow motion. In these situations, I try to remember to not look up the hill and see what is still ahead, but turn around and look down and realize how far you have come. It seems quite corny, but when you’ve known the state of mind where you don’t even think you’ll live to see your 16th birthday and then 2014 rolls around and brings with it your 22nd, it’s quite an amazing feeling.

And I think this is where I’m going to end this ramble. I don’t plan on doing a real re-cap this time, because I wanted to try something new. So here are some of the things I learned in 2014. (These are very personal discoveries I have made for myself, so if you, for example, have really nothing to complain about your family’s dinner habits, please have dinner with them. Don’t leave them alone. They will appreciate it, and you will, too.)

1. Sometimes, receiving presents from someone doesn’t mean they like you. And then again, sometimes it does.

2. People will over-react to anything and get offended by everything. If you encounter such a person, turn away and leave as fast as you can. It probably means they don’t have a very good grip on reality. You don’t need those people. Especially if they might carry a concealed weapon.

3. When someone whistles as you get out the car and literally only your leg up to your ankle is showing, plus half of your face, it’s not at all flattering, just freaking creepy.

4. Just because someone is asking for something, does not mean you have to give it to them.

5. Good AND bad people exist in and out of religion. Prayer and going to church does not necessarily make you good, just like not doing these things won’t necessarily make you bad. The ability of making decent choices has nothing to do with belief and religion or lack thereof.

6. If someone thinks that the right to marry someone is a bigger issue than children and adults starving all over the world, living in war zones, dying of illnesses that could be prevented by a tiny prick with a needle, they need a reality check.

7. Then again, if someone thinks marrying someone you love is a sin and abomination and will lead to people having sex with animals and children growing up ‘not-normal’, turn away. After all, they have already proven with these arguments that there is something not right about a conversation with them; meaning, they probably don’t have real concerns and are just douche bags who are uncomfortable in the chafing trousers their trophy wives can’t use fabric softener on. Then you need to go and marry your love anyway. (6 and 7 are to all the lovers out there)

8. People can be mean, be nice to them anyway.

9. Feeling the need to move out after years of not wanting to (and not being able to) leave your room, is terrifying, but one of the big victories.

10. Having breakfast/lunch/dinner with your family is hell, avoid it at all costs. Their eating habits and dinner table behaviour will drive you up the walls, so if you really cannot get out of doing it at all, try getting out early AT LEAST. 

11. Saying goodbye to a dead loved one is hard, saying goodbye to a live one even harder.

12. When you are stressed, do more of what you love and not what you should do because it will only make you more stressed. Grab a cuppa. A book. Or translate. Or draw. DO NOT grab the to do list.

13. Don’t force the big choices in life, as they will, like inspiration or love, creep up on you and choose you when you don’t see it coming.

And there you go. There’s loads more and maybe I’ll do another one of those posts, but to put it simply, I didn’t want to do too many and since 13 is one of my favorite numbers, I just went for it. Also, to be completely honest, I really didn’t want to be so cheesy as to choose “14 things I learned in 2014”.

Thank you to all my lovely readers who started following in 2014 and those, of course, who have been here for longer than that. And while I mainly do all of this for myself, it is incredibly honoring and exciting to see someone hang around for my posts. So thank you to all the peeps around the world!

Be kind.

With love,

Nike

PS: Get ready for a ton of quotes coming your way, but before them, there’s going to be another more personal post, so stay tuned, it’s all coming!

Let’s talk.

I’m going to keep this really short because I’m posting from my phone and although I’m quick, I’m actually freaking slow in comparison to touch-typing on an actual keyboard.
So. I’m still breathing. Obviously.
But to be honest… I’m a fragile mess right now.
I don’t even want to really talk about it. Just wanted to let you know I’m still here.
I’m also expecting my laptop to die every day now. Which is the second reason I’m not online as often as I used to/would like to. It’s too old to have so much crap on it, so it’s basically overwhelmed 24/7. My laptop, I mean. The only thing I do, maybe once, twice a week, is check my emails. Though I just pretty much archive them without reading. Unless it’s something important.
But…I can’t even read the blogs I usually read. Because I’m so sensitive right now to everything and everyone around me, it’s like…I don’t even know. Too much. It’s all in my head. It’s absolutely overwhelming. Which is the other reason I’m usually not online these days. Because I cannot deal with the pain.
I still have a comment from Mel on one of my posts that I have not read or approved. I will, in the future. I just…I cannot deal right now.
I will also go back and read all the blog posts that I missed so far and will write comments like I usually would. Just not right now.

Right now I have to fix this.

I hope you understand.

I will try to be on Twitter more, so no one has to worry.
But don’t expect too much.

Gotta fix this first.

#WorldMentalHealthDay

It’s 9 to 12 where I am right now, but I wanted to share the awesomeness that is the #WorldMentalHealthDay with all of you. At this late hour, yes. Although…where you are, it might still be the 10th.

As y’all are very well aware, I have been diagnosed with bipolar and schizo-affective disorders a couple years back (and if you weren’t aware, you now are) and I have since been trying to make something called ‘understanding’ happen. In my family, with my friends, even with people I barely know and who asked me what was going on.

I’m not being ‘pushy’ at all, if you’re thinking that, because I’m sure some people are.  “Excuse me, do you have some time (and a cheque) for the mentally ill?”

No, not like that. I’m just trying to raise awareness and, if somebody asks, I will tell them and, if they’re interested, I will also explain. Because it is a taboo, still. But we have to understand, and believe me, I also had to understand, that some people DON’T understand. At all. They either don’t want to, because it is out of their comfort zone, or they can’t because it is too abstract.

And this is where my plan comes in. Because this #WMHD, I decided to announce that I made the YouTube dream come true. I registered for an account and will start filming videos on this exact topic (mental health and some things beyond that, like meds, therapy etc) when I get my voice back. Which is hopefully soon. Fingers crossed.

I don’t even know if you’re interested in this, but I thought…I announced it on twitter, let’s do the blog, too.

And really…if I can help only one person in the whole wide world with this project…that’s enough. One person better educated and answered, might be one person less scared.

That YT channel is supposed to be a source of information, education, taboo-breaking and experience-telling – for everyone looking for exactly that.

I’d really like for you to check it out when it’s ready. I will, of course, announce that here as well.

 

And..of course, making this ‘project thing’ happen now, at this time, with bipolar awareness day just over and #WMHD happening…this isn’t only for other people. It’s for me as well. As a celebration that I am still alive.

You might not be able to fix me completely, but you can’t completely break me, either.

 

I hope you have a great day (or night), wherever you are.

Sending love!

 

Demonic Wolves: News.

So I just did some research on those wolf-themed dreams I am having (one of my readers also left me a comment saying they had a similar problem) and it turns out that dreaming of wolves can have a lot of meanings, including, for example, you’re getting chased by something or someone, a loyalty-issue etc.

Please check out this great site* for more examples (they also list interpretations of other cultures and more):

http://www.dreamomania.com/dreamdictionary/animals/wolf_meaning/

But considering the most listed interpretations (I checked out several dream interpretation/meaning sites to see if the meanings where listed in more than one place) – anxiety issues, loyalty issues, being threatened/feeling threatened, feeling of being followed,  extreme aggressive behavior, extreme impulsive behavior – I had the feeling that there might be some kind of connection to being bipolar or having an other mental disorder. So I did some research on that and I did find a lot of hints suggesting there might be a link between dreaming of a wolf and being bipolar. For example: I found a site where dreams were being considered a reflection of our mental state, suggesting – for example – that people that feel threatened often dream of being hunted down or being attacked by a (vicious or sly) animal, such as the wolf.

I also found a site where there was some ‘info’ about dreaming of werewolves, where the interpreter was talking about the fact that the person experiencing the dream might fear a ‘friend’ turn into a ‘frightening creature’ – the werewolf symbolizing the change in a person or situation.

Also: there is a theory saying that medication can sometimes induce certain kinds of dreams. So if you take any medication to treat a mental disorder, please share – maybe there is a connection. (You don’t have to tell, of course. No pressure.)

 

*I am not affiliated with them whatsoever. I just found the site and thought I’d share it with you.